Nathan Lyon scored valuable runs at the bottom of the Australia batting order as they reached 245-9 when bad light stopped play on day two of the third Test against South Africa at Newlands.
Wicketkeeper Tim Paine was on an unbeaten 33 as the visitors trailed by 66 at the end of the day.
Lyon (47 off 38) scored at over a run-a-ball as he and Paine put on a very useful stand of 66 runs for the ninth wicket as South Africa once again struggled to knock off the Australian tail.
The home side were on top for much of the third and final session, as Mitchell Marsh (five), Pat Cummins (four) and Mitchell Starc (two) failed to make decent contributions with the bat.
Having had Australia at 175-8, South Africa will be disappointed they couldn’t bowl the Australians out in the final session, especially with the trio of Morne Morkel, Kagiso Rabada and Vernon Philander bowling well.
Lyon was eventually out when he was brilliantly caught by Dean Elgar at point for Morkel’s fourth wicket of the day.
South Africa went into the final session looking to knock off the remaining batsmen, and Philander sent Marsh back into the stands early on for just five. For the first time in the innings, the Australian run rate crept below four runs an over, and they were still way off the Proteas’ total of 311.
The runs seemed to dry up for Australia when Paine came to the crease, but Australia were brought back to life when Lyon played an explosive innings that included eight fours.
Rabada picked up his second wicket of the innings when he had Cummins caught by AB de Villiers for four. Cummins would have felt his innings was a wasted one as he faced 40 balls and batted for 38 minutes to score just four runs. Rabada sent Starc packing soon after for just two runs.
Paine will resume Australia’s innings on day three alongside No 11 Josh Hazlewood.
Earlier on, Morkel picked up his 300th Test wicket when he removed Shaun Marsh for 26, and South Africa pegged Australia back to 150-5 at tea.
In the session before lunch, Australia scored at just under six runs an over, and reached 67-2, having bowled South Africa out for 311.
South Africa 311 (1st innings): Dean Elgar 141*, AB de Villiers 64; Pat Cummins 4-78, Nathan Lyon 2-43
Australia 245-9 (1st innings): Cameron Bancroft 77, Nathan Lyon 47; Morne Morkel 4-87, Kagiso Rabada 3-81
Australia trail by 66 runs
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images